The Philippines cannot legalize same-sex marriage, unlike the US and several other European countries, according to President Rodrigo Duterte, who spoke before the Filipino community in a two-day official visit in Myanmar, and explained the current law of the land re marriage in the country.
“Wala na gender… wala na ‘he’ or ‘she’… ‘Yan ang kultura nila, di kayo lang. Di yan puwede sa amin kay Katoliko kami and there is the Civil Code which says that you can only marry a woman to a man. At yan ang batas namin,” he said.
As bluntly stated by Duterte, the current law of the land allows only those who were assigned man and woman to marry each other.
Article 54 of the Civil Code of the Philippines states: “Any male of the age of sixteen years or upwards, and any female of the age of fourteen years or upwards… may contract marriage.” This was amended by Article 5 of the Family Code of the Philippines (Executive Order No. 209), signed by the late Pres. Corazon Aquino, stating: “Any male or female of the age of eighteen years or upwards not under any of the impediments mentioned in Articles 37 and 38, may contract marriage.”
The Family Code also specifically states (Article 1): “Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman (Emphasis ours – Ed) entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences, and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except that marriage settlements may fix the property relations during the marriage within the limits provided by this Code.”
Seemingly highlighting a “I support you, but I don’t support you” stance, Duterte claimed that two of his brothers-in-law, as well as some cousins are members of the LGBT community, but he added that “wala akong ano, pero kung saan ka pinuwesto ng Diyos, diyan ka lang (I have nothing against them, but you have to stick to where God placed you).”
When he was mayor of Davao City, Duterte signed an anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO). But when he was running for the highest post of the land, he also flip flopped on marriage equality.
Inconsistency has long marked politicians’ positions re LGBT human rights. The late Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, for instance, filed the likes of Senate Bill 1559 (Anti-Sexual Orientation Discrimination bill) and SB 1871 (which sought to install LGBT protection desks in all police stations), but as early as 1998, she also submitted bills that wanted to bar recognition of marriage involving transgender individuals, contracted in the Philippines or abroad, and bar recognition of marriages or domestic partnership between two people of the same biological sex contracted in countries that legally recognize such relationships.
Another contender for the Philippine presidency, Mar Roxas, said in a January 31, 2016 interview that “bilang public policy para sa akin ay hindi ako pabor dito. Subalit… may mga kamag-anak ako na close na close [who] have partners and nirerespeto ko sila, minamahal ko sila, tinatanggap ko sila. Bukas-puso, bukas-loob ang aking pagtrato sa kanila. Pero ‘yan ang personal ko sa kanila. Bilang opisyan sa pamahalaan ay hindi (As a public policy, I’m not in favor of [same-sex marriage]. I have relatives who I’m close to and have partners and I respect them, I love them, I accept them wholeheartedly. But that’s my personal relationship with them. As an official of the government, it’s a no).”
Former Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III also had the same position, claiming that while he wasn’t ready to tackle marriage equality under his administration, it may be the choice of LGBT people to marry. He was hesitant, nonetheless, with granting LGBT people the right to adopt as it could harm children.